FanPost

Comparing Nikolaj Ehlers's points-per-game to recent QMJHL standout forwards

Well, he didn't get a point here. But you get the idea. - Derek Leung

This is the 3rd of a pre-draft series focussed on the top draft-eligible players. Here is the link to the Draisaitl/Reinhart post. And here is the link to the Dal Colle/Bennett post.

(EDIT: added Derick Brassard to the chart)

While we debate over who the Isles might/should choose with their likely top-5 top-6 draft choice, let's take a look at how Ehlers scored this season compared to recent top forward prospects from the QMJHL. I know points-per-game isn't everything, but it is one of the better statistics that is readily accessible.

Note that Ehlers's number may be slightly inflated due to being on a high-scoring team, similar to Bennett's. Ehlers's Mooseheads finished with 292 goals, which is towards the top, even for the high-scoring QMJHL. However, note that several others on this list were also on teams around 300 goals. (In fact, MacKinnon 2011-12 and Couturier were the only two who were not.)

Also note that Ehlers had super-prospect Jonathan Drouin on his team this season. (We'll get to that.)

QMJHL recent top forward prospects:

Player...Year...Age at start of season (Oct)... Goals scored by team during regular season... Points-per-game

(Bolded players entered draft immediately after the season.)

Drouin.........2012-13...17Y7M....347....2.14

Mantha.............2013-14....19Y1M.....306.....2.11

Brassard.....2005-06....18Y1M....273....2.00

MacKinnon...2012-13...17Y1M....347....1.70

Couturier....2010-11...17Y10M....251....1.66

Ehlers..........2013-14...17Y8M....292....1.65

Huberdeau...2010-11...17Y4M....324....1.57

Grigorenko...2011-12...17Y5M....275....1.44

MacKinnon......2011-12....16Y1M.....250.....1.34

Mantha.........2012-13...18Y1M....274....1.33

Simply using this data, it appears that Drouin and MacKinnon (age) blow the rest away. Brassard's numbers were also very impressive his pre-draft season-- he led his team in scoring by 33 points--the next highest was current NHLer Latendresse. (Mantha is having a great season, but he is 1+year older than everyone else on this chart.)

Couturier, Ehlers, Huberdeau, and Grigorenko each put up similar numbers their pre-draft season. You could argue those 4 in any order, solely looking at points-per-game, age, and team scoring their pre-draft seasons.... Huberdeau is 6'1" and thin. Ehlers is 5'11" and thin. Couturier and Grigorenko are each 6'3", so size wasn't much of a concern for drafting either player.

Similar to MacKinnon and Drouin having each other on the same team last season, Drouin and Ehlers have each other this season. You may say, "Well, doesn't that inflate the numbers of all three, to a certain extent?" Perhaps, but do note that for a stretch without MacKinnon in the lineup in 2011-12, Drouin actually scored more than usual: 26 pts in 10 games (2.60 PPG). And for a stretch without Drouin in the lineup this season, Ehlers had 14 pts in 7 games. (2.00 PPG)..... A counterpoint is that Ehlers only came close to matching Drouin's PPG one month this season (February).

One other interesting aspect to Ehlers's season is that his points-per-game gradually increased over the course of the season. One possible narrative is that Ehlers needed time to adjust to the QMJHL. There may be something to that. No other player on this chart saw such a drastic increase in points-per-game the 2nd half of his pre-draft season as Ehlers. (MacKinnon had injuries in his pre-draft season.) Let's compare Ehlers's season with Drouin's two seasons:

...........2011-12......2012-13.....2012-13

..........Drouin.......Ehlers.......Drouin

SEP.......2.00...........0.86..........N/A

OCT.......2.50...........1.31..........1.60

NOV.......1.80...........1.70..........3.10

DEC.......1.75...........1.67..........N/A

JAN.......2.25...........1.82..........2.38

FEB.......2.55...........1.89..........1.89

MAR.......1.83...........2.43..........3.67

1stRd......2.50...........2.50..........3.25

(Drouin had 1.92 the remainder of 2011-12 playoffs)

Or, perhaps more simply, Drouin's last 3 months of regular season before the draft, he scored 2.28 per game; during the corresponding period Ehlers scored 2.00 per game....And Drouin scored 2.52 per game this season during those months of the regular season.

Assuming Ehler's increase in production shows his true talent level (not simply a player being hot for 3 months, or a player riding Drouin's coattails), is that enough to make up for his size and any other holes in his game? Is it enough to have his name called before Dal Colle or Draisaitl on draft day? Is it enough to become an impact player in the NHL?

<em>Submitted FanPosts do not necessarily reflect the views of this blog or SB Nation. If you're reading this statement, you pass the fine print legalese test. Four stars for you.</em>

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